5 Times Supernatural Hit Too Close to Home for People With Mental Illness

Let’s be real: almost every episode hits close to home for those of us that battle mental illness, but certain moments were almost too much to bear. For some, like me, they may even hold personal significance regarding coping and healing. Without further ado, onward, into the tears!

5. When Dean went into Hell. 

Although our society’s made a lot of progress, many of us grew up bombarded with messages that said something like “This isn’t a real illness, and you’re just being too sensitive.” What that translates to for someone like me is, You aren’t sick. You’re just inherently bad or wrong. It isn’t logical, it isn’t rational. It’s a gut-wrenching emotional parasite that constantly tells you you’re just bad, everyone said so. These messages prey on an already vulnerable mindset.

One of the recurring themes in Supernatural involves something similar. Dean and Sam both harbor considerable self-loathing because of the difficult circumstances their life has thrown at them. Dean’s in particular seems to be emphasized throughout the show, and the end result — in which he’s forced to do bad things for good reasons, or because there is no other choice — is a very good man who is convinced that he’s evil.

This was clear even in the early seasons. So when Dean is accepting his fate in Hell, accepting that he’s doomed to an afterlife of pain, he’s expressing something extremely common in those who fight mental illness.

Dean’s acceptance of his fate is too, too real for people who have done the same thing. Good people who have “realized” (read: believed) that there’s no cure for them, and that they are doomed to a life of hell. That they’re inherently wrong. They “realize” that, and with no hope left are facing that fate head-on. Which makes what happens next all the more powerful.

4. When Dean got out of Hell.

When Dean came out of Hell, he wasn’t the only one climbing out of it. I was leaving, too.

deanhell

For someone who thinks that their flawed mind has doomed them to a life of torture, seeing Dean enter the sunlight again is a spiritual experience. I watched the Season 4 opener on the same day that I left my deep depression for the first time. It had more or less lasted for years and I didn’t know if I’d ever feel okay again. The fact that some measure of goodness was still attainable, despite all the darkness that was still ahead, was nothing less than holy.

deservesaved

It can’t get clearer than that: Dean climbing out of Hell was me climbing out of Hell. He was us climbing out of hell. He’s the proof, the message, that … well, I’ll let our angel friend here take it away.

goodthings

3. “This is what you’re going to become.”

If there’s anyone who stands as the stone-cold poster boy of the dangers of this pattern, it’s Demon Dean. Deanmon, if you will. He made his first appearance back in the day, in season

image

Here he’s the manifestation of all that guilt and self-loathing inside Dean’s brain. The perfect depiction of the battle with yourself, really. When Demon Dean tells him, “You’re gonna die! And this? This is what you’re gonna become!” I’m seeing my own … well, they don’t call them “inner demons” for nothing, do they? I don’t want to be redundant here, but that’s why this scene is so gut-wrenching: It’s taking place inside of his own mind.

2. Sam’s demon-blood addiction. 

The ties are clear: we find ways to cope, some more dangerous than others. But even those with more benign addictions and coping mechanisms can relate to Sam’s battle with demon blood, both his power and his weakness.

I can say that in my own experience, the worst, most brutal parts of my suffering had these bizarre benefits. I’m not just saying that to sound pithy or cliche or minimize the agony I was in. It was the only thing I could clutch on to, so I wore these things like armor. Much like our boy Sam here.

Being severely depressed resulted in two things: first, extreme emotions, and then no emotions. Having every emotion at once made things like music that much more powerful, which meant I spent every waking moment indulging in it. Having no emotions felt like a superpower, a reprieve, that I completely relished even as it started to damage my health.

1. Sam’s trials in Season 8.

When Dean runs in to tell Sam, “Metatron lied. You finish these trials, you’re dead, Sam,” Sam merely looks around and responds, “So?”

It’s a powerful moment, full of that brotherly angst we’ve come to know so well. Both brothers show their raw pain in this scene to different degrees, but Sam’s confessions are magnetic here. His world’s been ravaged by the trials, and he’s doing it all because, as he said in “The Great Escapist”:

I’m not clean. I mean, I w— I was just a little kid. You think… maybe I knew? I mean, deep down, that— I had… demon blood in me, and about the evil of it, and that I’m— wasn’t pure?

… It doesn’t matter anymore. Because these trials… they’re purifying me.

Watching this, I felt it on a visceral level. This could have been me. This could have been anyone with a mental illness, because, as I mentioned before, the mentally ill tend to internalize their struggles. And quite frankly, popular opinion doesn’t help on this front. We take all of this pain and tell ourselves that it’s our fault, that we’re unclean.

And this rhetoric is so deeply ingrained that we often don’t know how to stop. How am I supposed to stop sabotaging myself?

Sam Winchester - How Do I Stop 

And he does. Sam lets it go. It’s cathartic.

It’s a beacon of light for someone with depression, or any other debilitating mental illness: when I’m in too deep, when I don’t care whether I die or not anymore, when I’m convinced I’m unclean and intrinsically wrong. How do I stop? Just let it go, brother. Let it go. 

And I do.

This Week In Whitewashing: A Series Destroying Your Faith in Humanity, One Post At A Time

Because why not make everyone even more pessimistic than they already are? Why not???!!!!?????

Most high-profile recently is the casting for Aloha, a rom-com set in Hawai’i. The biracial co-star Allison Ng is played by Emma Stone. Needless to say, people were pissed, and Sony responded by telling them to hold their horses:

While some have been quick to judge a movie they haven’t seen and a script they haven’t read, the film Aloha respectfully showcases the spirit and culture of the Hawaiian people.

Right. But can you blame people for being jaded? I will be shocked if they don’t use the title to bastardize the word “aloha,” which is more complex than most non-Hawaiians recognize. Yet Sony goes on to say that “filmmaker Cameron Crowe spent years researching this project and many months on location in Hawaii, cultivating relationships with leading local voices. He earned the trust of many Hawaiian community leaders, including Dennis ‘Bumpy’ Kanahele, who plays a key role in the film.”

I’m sorry, but reads to me like “No, it’s not whitewashing, see? We got a Hawaiian guy who says so. He even stars in the movie.” I mean, he may be the only native guy, but still …

I could be completely off-base here, but it’s not like the movie industry has a great track record.

image

Yeah, the Hawaiian guy plays a “key role.”  Meanwhile,
the movie poster is literally ALL WHITE PEOPLE.

For more, take a look at the blinding trailer, which is just as much of a snowstorm as we expected. You can play “spot the POC” if you’re feeling it. There are, like, three in the background, which is enough representation, right? Never mind the fact that continuously putting all white people in leading roles tells everyone else that, no, “you aren’t lead role material.” Only white people get to be heroic, funny, charming, and relatable.

On the flipside, we’ve got Michael B. Jordan cast as The Human Torch, via Michigan Chronicle.

In unrelated news, people suddenly care that characters get cast as other races.

Zoe Saldana perfectly pointed out that if you get ticked about this, you also have to be pissed about Hollywood’s long history of whitewashing.

Jordan brilliantly responded to haters:

Get your head out of the computer. Go outside and walk around. Look at the people walking next to you. Look at your friends’ friends and who they’re interacting with. And just understand this is the world we live in. It’s okay to like it.

Thank you! Thank you!!!!!!! Can I get this on a t-shirt? Can I get this tattooed on my abdomen? Can I get this written in a corn field, visible from space?

In comics, there’s some speculation over the portrayal of Machiste in Convergence #5, via Bleeding Cool. He’s been consistently black over the years, including previous issues.

Recently, however something changed …

Convergence #5 (2015) - Page 13

Quirk of the coloring? Lighting? It could be an accident, sure. Or a well-meaning attempt to avoid having a white guy rip the heart out of a black guy. Either way, though, it’s inexcusable in my book. But then, maybe I don’t have the full story. Right? There has to be a logical reason, because for these things, the creators always have one. (For reference, see Aloha, above.)

Finally, as a neat bow on top of the whitewashed sundae, M. Night Shyamalan completely missed the point, via Movie Pilot. He responded to allegations that his live-action Movie-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named had problems by saying:

You could make it one of two ways: You could make it for that same audience, which is what I did — for nine and 10-year-olds — or you could do the Transformers version and have Megan Fox.

Either he’s being deliberately obtuse, or he honestly believes people hated it because it was a kid’s movie and not for adults. It’s hard to say which considering the man obviously has never gone on the internet before.

The Last Taboo: Who Are the Most Embarrassing Fans on the Internet?

If people look down at fans for their overzealous tendencies, those fans who “ship” characters are even worse. If “shippers” are outcasts, then those who ship gay couples are engaging in the ultimate taboo.

Granted, I know it can go even further than this, such as when people ship gay incest (you know who you are). Yet gay shipping is where popular consciousness draws the line. Things like incest and bestiality are, to most people, so clearly wrong that there is no debate. But encouraging a gay romance between characters others see as heterosexual is where the gray area begins and ends. Unlike incest, people can claim that they are “fine with gay people, but those characters aren’t in love with each other.” The subversiveness of this sentiment makes it so much more dangerous.

Tumblr is a petri dish for these conflicts. It’s a place where the most embarrassing sentiments of your fourteen-year-old self can be seen by everyone. When I was that age (I say as I wave my cane in the air), I hung out on message boards that had populations under a hundred if you were lucky. The corners of the internet that aren’t built on sweeping waves of social networks. Places where you can be sure your worst selves won’t come back to haunt you later. Now these selves can be passed around as fodder for the fan backlash. Other fans, afraid of humiliation, censor themselves.

Like a lot of other people, I started to make sure that I knew how to “fan right.” I thought myself more enlightened. I knew that to keep from embarrassing yourself, you had to fangirl or fanboy in a way that was acceptable by the rest of the internet.

In other words, it was third grade all over again. We as a culture celebrate the fact that “nerds are cool,” but let’s be real: fangirls are the new nerds, the new geeks. We are the weirdos who think that two same-sex friends should be lovers on a cable TV show. Note that I say “fangirls” on purpose; women fans are still the outliers in the nerd world, despite the fact that we are legion.

Some of us fans became “self-aware”, then. We knew how to fan right.

Yet it dawned on me recently that a lot of people who ship straight ships don’t receive this treatment. New Girl before Nick and Jess went out. Mindy and Danny in The Mindy Project. Every straight couple on Legend of Korra. Friends. Every single television show that recycles the on-again-off-again straight couple drama. It’s recycled, mind you, because it works. But all this is also proof that there is a ridiculous double standard. And until now I never questioned it.

People who ship a straight couple are hopeful, perhaps insightful. Normal. Those who ship gay couples are delusional, seeing what isn’t there. We have a kink.

That’s the subtext here, the one instance in which the subtext is accepted as real: we have a kink. We are all trying to live out our straight-girl sexual fantasies by seeing men kiss onscreen. Never mind that a lot of us aren’t anywhere near heterosexual. Never mind that we’d love to see girls kiss onscreen, too. Those kinds of deep and complex relationships aren’t seen between females on TV. Many of us ship straight white men because it’s all we have.

I’ve spent so long trying to see the other side, trying to “fan right”, trying to look at every reason why my OTP is just platonic. But I now see that these efforts are futile. They’ve always been, because as a female nerd I am already being judged before I make a move. As a female who ships gay men, I am delusional and horny, regardless of whether I’m asexual or informed on film subtext. I am already at a loss before I’ve begun, so what point is there in trying to be accepted? In trying to be normal, reasonable, a fan who is liked by other subcultures?

We’re here to have fun. If I’m going to be shunned in the process, so be it.

Photo: Timothy Vogel | Flickr

Weekly Wumbo: A New Unoriginal Series Featuring Cool Links

The new weekly feature where I wumbo, you wumbo, he/she/we wumbo, wumboing, wumbology, the study of wumbo … it’s first grade!

BOOKS

In honor of the recent Free Comic Book Day, Mental Floss gave us some great recommendations for graphic novels and comics.

On another note, they also wrote a fantastic piece on the secrets of bookstores.

TV

The Week gave us a list of 34 TV shows to watch in 2015.

PLAY

Archive.org is your one-stop-free-shop for nostalgia and gaming. Seriously, they have the original Oregon Trail on there. Oregon Trail!

Finally, play Buzzfeed’s Choose Your Own Adventure-style quiz to see if you’d survive the Battle of Hogwarts.

Photo: Christop Brooks-Booth | Flickr

Turn and Face the Strange: Change Is In the Air

The following is a brief list of things I realized after some soul-searching:

  1. I have been neglecting a blog I love for far too long. (That’s this one, by the way.)
  2. This Royal We thing has got to go. It’s too impersonal, however in line it may be with my snarky deadpan sense of humor.
  3. I need to put in 111% on this.

I’m keeping it at threes because I don’t want to risk having the list end on an even number.

If all goes well, the changes I am implementing will liven up this place and be a source of catharsis. Things never go well, so don’t worry. I am committing to posting three times a week or more, engaging in my Twitter account because that site is worthless if you don’t actually go on it, and broadening the scope of what I write about on here.

Fingers crossed.

Photo: sualk61 | Flickr